Toronto takes on Tim's

Post by Eric Mang in ,

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Tim Hortons litter
Flickr photo by Derek Purdy

I think Tim Hortons makes terrible coffee, it is not Fair Trade (choosing instead to “work with their growers”; which sounds much nicer than “exploit our growers”. There is nothing here indicating fair wages) and it’s the source of a lot of litter. In Nova Scotia, Tim Hortons refuse accounted for 22% of trash in ditches and roads.

Okay, Tim’s isn’t directly responsible for people tossing empty cups out of their cars, but their cups have no recycled content. That’s a lot of chopped down trees to make a product that is held by a consumer for 15 minutes then thrown in a ditch.

Lots of cups and problems with disposal have resulted in the City of Toronto spending $50,000 to figure out how it will prevent 350 million coffee cups a year from ending up in landfill (that’s about 125 cups of coffee a year for every woman, man and child in Toronto alone).

The right-wingers on Council have opposed the $50,000 study because they think city bureaucrats should simply do their jobs (I wonder how these same Councillors feel about their federal cousins spending $1 billion on consultants between 2006-2008). But city officials say that there are some complexities that need to be handled (such as lids that can’t be recycled or some materials that are used in the cups that can’t be broken down using current techniques). If it costs $50,000 (a mere fraction of the city’s $8.7 billion operating budget) to get the policy right, so be it.

But Tim’s and others say that making a recyclable lid is too difficult. I disagree. Compostable cups are used by many coffee houses that sell Fair Trade and organic coffee. Tim’s says that any cost to comply will be passed on to customers. Why is this a threat? They’re not the only purveyor of joe in town – prices go too high, and customers go elsewhere. In fact, perhaps we should go elsewhere and buy coffee that is organically grown, Fair Trade and served in compostable containers. There’s a cup worth paying for.

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